Links & Contents I Liked 381

Hi all,

The one great thing about compiling my weekly review is that I never really know what will end up here on Friday...the Art Deco legacy of Karachi? AOC campaigning on Twitch? Another #globaldev abuse scandal in Sudan? A new documentary on Equatorial Guinea? A photo-storytelling project from a women's prison in Moldova? Or a new article on environmental celebrity tropes?
Well, they all in this week's review-so explore, read, enjoy and share!

My quotes of the week

That brings us back to the Peace Prize – the only one of the Nobel Prizes that can – for unclear reasons – be bestowed upon institutions. Does WFP as the UN’s largest humanitarian body with an approx US$8 billion budget really need the medal, diploma, and modest US$1 million money? Will it make any difference to countering the record levels of world hunger or progressing peace anywhere?
(Peace continues to elude the Nobel Prize)

Whiteness is a highly malleable category (who is considered white has changed a lot across time and space, including in France), but it is not something that can be ‘achieved’ somehow unilaterally by those racialised as non-white. While seeking approval in the white gaze did help me to fit in (at the cost of internalising processes of racial and postcolonial domination, and making me somehow complicit in my own oppression), I could however never manage to be fully white. (Colonial Hangover à la française)

New from aidnography

Development news
Catholic NGO boss accused of racism and abuse in Sudan
At a glance: Allegations of racism, abuse, and misconduct at CRS
The American head of CRS in Sudan has been fired after his arrest for racial abuse.
The arrest came in the wake of BLM protests and on the day CRS launched an anti-racism initiative.
The charges against the American boss were dropped after an alleged payout.
A joint whistleblower complaint was filed against the same man in late 2018.
Two further complaints accused him of racism and of trying to cover up sexual harassment.
At least three whistleblowers say they were dismissed after filing complaints.
Mohammed Amin, Ben Parker & Paisley Dodds for the New Humanitarian with a story of a #globaldev organization whose faith has been covering human rights abuses for 2000 years...

How Africa fought the pandemic — and what coronavirus has taught the world
Before a single confirmed case of Covid-19 in sub-Saharan Africa, Mr Nkengasong convened an emergency two-day meeting of health ministers in Addis Ababa. “I have never been this serious in my life,” he said. “They came from Egypt, Morocco, Nigeria, South Africa. Everybody was there.” Not long after, Cyril Ramaphosa, president of South Africa and chairman of the African Union, began organising weekly video conferences to co-ordinate Africa’s response. “I don’t know any continent that rallied that quickly,” recalls Mr Nkengasong.
David Pilling for the FT with a good long-read on African responses to Covid-19.

Nine weeks of bloodshed: how brutal policing of Kenya's Covid curfew left 15 dead
Juliet Wanjira has emerged as a central figure among a new generation of young, fearless activists drawn mostly from Kenya’s informal settlements. In the weeks following the implementation of the curfew, the 25-year-old from Mathare, one of Kenya’s poorest neighbourhoods, led two protests against police brutality.
“When the curfew started, things got very bad very quickly,” said Wanjira, whose older brother was murdered in 2007 in a suspected police killing. “I want to say I’m surprised but I’m not. The police aren’t there to protect us, they’re there to protect the interests of those in power.”
“I strongly believe we can have a just society,” said Wanjira. “To achieve that, we have to focus on the system itself. That requires a complete mindset change. I want the police to realise that they are poor people just like us, fighting not for their own gain but for the benefit of a few rich people out there. They need to wake up.”
John-Allan Namu & Tess Riley for the Guardian on the downside of Covid-related measures in Kenya.

Saudi women's summit accused of 'whitewashing' record on rights
“[Summit attendees] legitimise a regime that silences all voices on human rights, including women’s voices,” Lina al-Hathloul said. “Women activists are behind bars, and the official charges they face are for their activism.”
“If women don’t speak out about what is happening in Saudi Arabia, then the situation won’t change.”
Saudi Arabia is hosting the summit of G20 leaders in November, and the women’s summit – which hosted speakers from international organisations including the United Nations and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development – is part of a string of linked events.
But the high-profile international gatherings have proved a lightning rod for controversy about the country’s record on human rights.
The mayors of major cities, including London, New York, Los Angeles and Paris, boycotted another major G20 linked event – the Urban 20 summit – last month, in protest at the plight of political prisoners in Saudi Arabia.
Emma Graham-Harrison for the Guardian; global diplomacy is complicated...when I wrote 'Electing Saudi-Arabia to the UN Commission on the Status of Women is not a bad idea' I shared similar concerns and hoped for incremental change, but since then the country hasn't exactly been transformed into a liberal poster country...
No It's Not A TV Movie: Death, Renewed Determination, A $1 Million Prize
But in the aftermath of this tragedy comes news of the Aurora Prize. The idea behind the prize is to promote what the founders describe as a cycle of gratitude. Aurora confers prize recipients with $1 million which they in turn distribute to other humanitarian organizations. This sets up "a re-circulation of funds to vitalize lives," explained Vartan Gregorian, the organization's co-founder and president of the Carnegie Corporation.
Diane Cole for NPR Goats & Soda with a great story of a unique humanitarian award and the stories behind this year's winners.

New documentary explores one of the world's oldest dictatorships
Juan Tomas Avila Laurel has been living in Spain, the former colonial power of Equatorial Guinea, since 2011. The author fled his home country following a hunger strike in protest against the "hopeless and worrying social, economic and political situation."
Soon after, he and Spanish director Marc Serena began preparations for a film that would document the conditions in one of the world's longest-ruling dictatorships.
Sabine Peschel for Deutsche Welle with a great documentary recommendation.

The grand plan to save forests has failed
Solutions arrived at in the big conference halls of the West, implemented in developing countries without the full participation of the people, are bound to fail. New ideas that explicitly involve the forest-dependent communities are imperative. Ongoing research by the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) on the impact of REDD+ initiatives on community livelihoods highlights the need for policies that respond to the unique ways that local communities use their forests. As Alain Fréchette of the Rights and Resources Institute notes, “strong indigenous and community land rights and a clear understanding of who owns forest carbon are vital prerequisites for climate finance to succeed in its goals of reducing poverty and protecting forests.”
Kelvin Mulungu for Africa is a Country on REDD+, climate change & a call for more community participation.
COVID-19 and BLM: A New Era for Aid? Rethinking Humanitarianism Episode 1
Join hosts Heba Aly and Jeremy Konyndyk as they explore the future of humanitarian aid at a critical time of transformation. In this first episode, Heba and Jeremy talk with Danny Sriskandarajah, CEO of Oxfam GB, about whether the COVID-19 pandemic and the Black Lives Matter movement can really change how the aid sector works.
Jeremy Konyndyk & Heba Aly for CGD with a new podcast.

The Caribbean's case for reparations: Part I

When a wrong has been committed, it must be repaired. If you recognise that colonization has been a source of massive crimes against humanity, then reparations are legitimate. If you refuse these reparations, then you deny the criminal nature of colonial crimes.
This is why we are forcefully demanding reparations, and this demand is non-negotiable.
Janine Mendes-Franco for Global Voices on the case for reparations.
Peace continues to elude the Nobel Prize
That brings us back to the Peace Prize – the only one of the Nobel Prizes that can – for unclear reasons – be bestowed upon institutions. Does WFP as the UN’s largest humanitarian body with an approx US$8 billion budget really need the medal, diploma, and modest US$1 million money? Will it make any difference to countering the record levels of world hunger or progressing peace anywhere?
The Norwegian Nobel Committee may wish to rethink its future approach to recognising real peacemakers who certainly need all the encouragement they can get. Meanwhile, it is also time to value humanitarian work for its own sake: perhaps a Nobel Humanitarian Prize for doing simple good that is unencumbered by calculations of peace or the sending of obscure or contentious political signals. It should be given to otherwise unrecognised humanitarian workers – not huge organisations – as a powerful affirmation of the power of ordinary humanity.
Mukesh Kapila shares his interesting reflections on awarding this years Nobel Peace Prize to WFP.

An Open Letter to NGO Board Members and Senior HQ Staff By Chris McIntosh
The negative similarities among various NGOs is impressive and while this does create solidarity among aid workers from different agencies, it’s not a good thing. We have healthier shared experiences to bond over than common stories of maltreatment, serious workplace injustices, and the constant speculation over whether management sees and ignores issues or genuinely doesn’t believe there is a real problem.
When there are NGOs based in so many different countries, ostensibly infused with varying ideologies, how is it that the vast majority are moving in the same direction – away from their humanitarian roots, towards a very business-oriented enterprise? The time is past due for all NGO board members and senior HQ staff to stop glancing laterally at one another for inspiration and create it internally, after taking stock and deciding what is really important.
Chris McIntosh continues to share interesting reflections from inside the #globaldev industry.

Colonial Hangover à la française

Whiteness is a highly malleable category (who is considered white has changed a lot across time and space, including in France), but it is not something that can be ‘achieved’ somehow unilaterally by those racialised as non-white. While seeking approval in the white gaze did help me to fit in (at the cost of internalising processes of racial and postcolonial domination, and making me somehow complicit in my own oppression), I could however never manage to be fully white.
Ilias Alami for the Colonial Hangover Magazine with a powerful & short essay!

Skills for the future humanitarian practitioner: a conversation with Dr Hugo Slim
“Today’s international relief professional is like the multinational executive who feels able to operate in any part of the world because she knows the way the firm works. However, she very seldom knows the way the country works. Similarly, the humanitarian establishment is developing a tendency towards the generic professional at the expense of the expert.”
Reflecting in 2020, Slim agrees that this continues to characterise the experience of many international aid workers today: “I think we’re quite profoundly ignorant of place as a profession. That moves across the many spaces and places. And I’m as guilty of that as the next person, really.”
While reflecting on the skill set for the modern humanitarian practitioner in 1995, Slim also noted that “more than reskilling, today’s emergencies also require a fundamental reappraisal of the relief worker’s essential identity”. Here he’s referring specifically to the need for practitioners to be alive to the challenges of claiming “neutrality” in a conflict—“of being in the world of conflict but not of it”—and this observation remains relevant today.
The statement about reappraisal also takes on a new meaning as we come to terms with the humanitarian system’s colonial legacy and perpetuation of power imbalance and paternalism. The skills that were relevant in 1995 are, in many ways, still central to humanitarian practice today. We can also add the need for skills to negotiate the major contextual shifts the define our current and future realities, such as climate change and technology.
However, perhaps the most fundamental shift needed for those working to meet the need of crisis-affected communities is that we, as individuals and organisations, must give effect to a more diverse humanitarianism that respects knowledge and skill in all their multiplicity.
Melanie Book talks to Hugo Slim for the Center for Humanitarian Leadership about humanitarian skills then (1995) and now (2020).

AOC’s record-breaking Twitch stream is the future of politics

The future of politics isn’t just young, tech-savvy, and meme-literate. It is accessible. Ocasio-Cortez talks to everyday people on Twitter and Instagram Live, and even visits constituents in Animal Crossing. These sustained efforts allow her recent Twitch stream to seem less like a political stunt and more like another genuine attempt to reach people where they live.
Patricia Hernandez for Polygon; I always distrust 'future of...' articles, but interesting food for thought for the #globaldev community about branding, authenticity & reaching younger people.

Jadwiga Brontē challenges stereotypes about maternity in prison with therapeutic photography
Jadwiga’s aim for the series was to specifically “investigate if it is possible to capture, despite the challenging circumstance, good memories and moments of happiness and save them for the future,” she tells us. Academic research suggests that capturing these fond memories “can help in the process of re-socialisation” for each prisoner, and aid the individual in developing “self-identity as a responsible and caring mother, and not a criminal”.
Taking the photographs over ten months in two prisons in Moldova, Jadwiga also worked with each mother to create their own baby album to keep. These albums will hopefully act as “physical reminders” of these good memories with the photographer hoping “that, as a result of this, I will be able to replace the image of challenging life in prison with a new one,” she says.
Within the resulting project itself, viewers get to know each of the mothers and their children through candid Polaroid shots and intimate digital photographs. Centred around the individuals themselves, it was also important to Jadwiga for it to never be obvious to outside observers that the images were taken inside a prison.
Lucy Bourton for It's Nice That with an interesting photographic storytelling project.

How Art Deco helped Karachi shake its colonial look
Karachi, with its unpredictable and ever growing urban fabric, is now one of the most populated and fractured cities in the world, devoid of holistic and informed urban planning. It is notoriously popular for its ravaged urban infrastructure that includes a failing transport system, neglected heritage sites and unregulated land development.
In our collective struggle to make Karachi and other South Asian cities more livable for the common person, we need to realise that preservation is a must. The ease of outreach and documentation through social media has been a great benefit for citizens of South Asia concerned with preserving and documenting their past. The collaborative aspect of these pages highlights the fact that this South Asian Network is working together to make information on Art Deco accessible to the general public, and to create a repository that will hopefully inspire others and help to preserve the rich heritage of South Asian cities.
Marvi Mazhar, Anushka Maqbool, Harmain Ahmer & Hareem Naseer for Samaa with an interesting essay & great pics from historical Karachi.
Our digital lives
That advice to women to ‘lean in’, be more confident… it doesn’t help, and data show it
For women, there was no clear evidence stronger confidence enhanced job promotion prospects.
Put differently, “leaning in” provides no guarantee of a payoff for women.
Personality traits reveal further gender patterns.
Men who display boldness and charisma, reflected by high extraversion, also experience a stronger likelihood of promotion. As do men who display the attitude that whatever happens to them in life is a result of their own choices and efforts, a trait we call “locus of control”.
But again there is no link between any of these traits and the promotion prospects for women.
Collectively these findings point to a disturbing template for career success: be confident, be ambitious… and be male.
Leonora Risse for the Conversation introduces her new research.

Travel influencers, meet authoritarian regimes
In this light, the content created by people like zu Beck is not merely benign course-correction but full of potentially dangerous omissions. She has rarely used her platform to reflect on aspects of the country’s abysmal human rights record, even when she got rare permission to visit restive provinces like Balochistan, the site of a long-running separatist insurgency.
Reynold’s criticism is not actually a dig at Pakistan’s tourism campaign but a call to action for the Pakistani agencies, whom she says could benefit from realistically acknowledging obstacles for the average visitor and changing policies on the ground (like advising police to stop harassing out-of-town visitors) rather than leapfrogging to fantastical influencer content. But airing/delivering this message got her kicked out of presenting at a tourism summit in Pakistan — which is why she explained all of this, directly to her followers, on YouTube.
Krithika Varagur for Rest of World shares great insights into place branding, Insta-washing & the moral dilemmas of travel influencers.

Could TikTok Save a Broken Art World?
For contemporary artists like Colette Bernard and Kelsy Landin, TikTok has also proven to be the most effective app yet for building a sizable audience of loyal—and often paying—fans.
On this week's episode of the Art Angle, journalist Zachary Small joins the show to discuss what has made TikTok such a revelation to artists across a variety of age groups, which kinds of artworks are attracting the most attention there, and how a TikTok ban would only worsen the devastating "brain drain" vacuuming young, diverse talent away from the increasingly troubled art industry.
Zachary Small for the Art Angle with a short podcast on TikTok & art.


COVID-19 in the Global South
Situating the worldwide health crisis within broader processes of globalisation, the book investigates implications for development and gender, as well as the effects on migration, climate change and economic inequality. Contributors consider how widespread and long-lasting responses to the pandemic should be, while paying particular attention to the accentuated risks faced by vulnerable populations. Providing answers that will be essential to development practitioners and policy makers, the book offers vital insights into how the impact of COVID-19 can be mitigated in some of the most challenging socio-economic contexts worldwide.
Pádraig Carmody, Gerard McCann, Clodagh Colleran & Ciara O’Halloran's book with Bristol University Press is now available open access.

The Tropes of Celebrity Environmentalism
We address these changes to the construction and interpretation of celebrity advocacy and detail how they have produced a rich variety of environmental celebrity advocates. We also account for differences between legacy (e.g., radio, TV, newspapers) and online celebrities and their practices (e.g., hashtag publics, brandjacking, online communities). Environmental celebrity advocates’ performances can be divided into nine tropes, each characterized in part by the particular varieties of environmentalism that they promote. We present the tropes and discuss their five cross-cutting themes.
Crystal Abidin, Dan Brockington, Michael K. Goodman, Mary Mostafanezhad & Lisa Ann Richey's article in Annual Review is available open access.

Spatial fixes and switching crises in the times of COVID-19: implications for commodity-producing economies in Latin America
By looking through the theoretical prism of critical economic geography, this article argues that in addition to the health and direct economic consequences of the pandemic, these countries will experience so-called switching crises as a result of the constant geographical restructuring of capitalism. As capital had moved into Latin America’s commodity-producing economies to provide spatial fixes to global capitalism’s previous crises by displacing them geographically and temporarily, the fall in commodity prices and the sudden stop to and reversal of capital flows has caused additional burdens in the current crisis. With the resulting debt expansion, the remaining dependency on external finance, and the structural deficiencies in achieving economic diversification, the territorialisation of capitalism’s crisis tendencies in the COVID-19 crisis will disproportionately affect Latin America’s commodity-producing economies
Tobias Franz with a new open access article in the Canadian Journal of Development Studies.


What we were reading 4 years ago

(Link review 170, 18 January 2016)
I quizzed dozens of Silicon Valley elites about inequality. Here's what they told me.
What emerged from my interviews and survey results was a set of views that are somewhat more nuanced than Graham’s, but also in agreement with his fundamental view of the world. Founders believe that equality of opportunity is crucial to a fair and healthy economy, while equality of outcome is economically paralyzing.
They believe that a relatively small slice of geniuses advance humanity more than the combined efforts of everyone else, and that economic growth is better at improving the overall quality of life than burdensome redistribution schemes.
And many believe that the best long-term solution to inequality may be a guaranteed basic minimum income, which minimizes regulation on innovation but ensures that the masses are well-off.
Gregory Ferenstein for Vox. No, the pandemic probably didn't change their outlook on life...

How to run a Nigerian NGO

What Nigeria, and indeed Africa, need is an increase in projects. Why waste time on government and social struggles when you can just start an NGO? Don’t let the ungrateful people dampen your spirit. The best time to start an NGO is yesterday. The next best time is now.
And that's a wrap with Elnathan John's satirical reflections from Nigeria.


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